Trainer Charlie Appleby can complete remarkable journey from stable lad to the king of Europe by landing the Prix de L’Arc de Triomphe at Longchamp
- Adayar and Hurricane Lane seeking Godolphin’s first Arc success since 2002
- Longchamp success would also be a massive achievement for Charlie Appleby
- He was a surprise choice to take charge at Godolphin’s Moulton Paddocks stable
Should Godolphin land the Qatar Prix de L’Arc de Triomphe at Longchamp with either Adayar or Hurricane Lane it will be further evidence that the racing empire created by Sheik Mohammed is well and truly back as a global force.
It would also be a momentous achievement for trainer Charlie Appleby, who has helped lead them from some dark days.
To win the Derby and King George VI & Queen Elizabeth Stakes with Adayar and the Irish Derby, Grand Prix de Paris and St Leger with Hurricane Lane as well as a clutch of big races across North America has made the summer of 2021 special for Appleby.
Adayar and Hurricane Lane will try to give Godolphin their first Arc success since 2002
Victory in Europe’s biggest all-age middle-distance contest would be the icing on the cake — and extra special with it being run for the 100th time.
Godolphin last won the Arc with Marienbard in 2002. Challenging for top races was what Sheik Mohammed created his elite team for.
But there were times since when Godolphin seemed to lose direction and were unable to lay a glove on the horses trained by Aidan O’Brien and supplied by his Coolmore Stud backers despite Sheik Mohammed lavishing billions on his operation.
There is a touch of irony then that the Godolphin resurgence has been driven by a trainer who started in working life as a stable lad in West Country jumps yards and has transitioned from racing’s factory floor to being the boss of one of the biggest stables in the world.
Doubling that irony is that Appleby only got his big break because predecessor Mahmood Al Zarooni brought shame on the Godolphin empire when banned for eight years after giving anabolic steroids to 11 of his horses in 2013.
Hurricane Lane has been given the green light to line up in Sunday’s Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe
Appleby was an assistant trainer then, unknown to racing fans and a left-field choice to take charge at Godolphin’s plush Moulton Paddocks stable in Newmarket. The man who transferred to Flat racing’s HQ as a 16-year-old to work for Susan Piggott, wife of Lester, concedes there were doubters.
But two wins — the only currency that matters in any sport — gave him belief and began to silence the sceptics: that of Outstrip in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf at Santa Anita in the November of his first season and a first Derby win in the Godolphin blue with Masar in 2018.
Appleby, 46, said: ‘It was a caretaker position at the start. It was dark times and everything was happening quite quickly.
‘I know what the sport is like. When things are not going right it is human instinct for people to think that someone can’t do the job and that it should be going to someone else. Outstrip’s win was surreal. It felt I might just have steadied the ship. I hadn’t proved myself by having one Group One winner but it was the first step on the ladder. More importantly I felt people in the industry gave me a little more respect.
‘When Masar won the Derby it was fantastic. When you are taking on John Gosden, Aidan O’Brien and Andre Fabre they are always going to have more respect. I understand that. You earn your stripes. But after Masar we were the ones being respected.’
Charlie Appleby was a left-field choice to take charge at Godolphin’s Moulton Paddocks stable
Appleby, who won Godolphin’s first Melbourne Cup with Cross Counter in 2018, has 11 Group One wins this season.
Adayar must overcome a tricky draw at 11 in the 15-runner field and Hurricane Lane, who has been backed heavily in the belief that the ever-softening ground in Paris will play in his favour. Whatever happens though, Adayar will stay in training next year. The pair’s stablemates include Native Trail, Europe’s highest-rated two-year-old, Coroebus and Noble Truth, who runs in this afternoon’s Prix Jean Luc Lagardere. All of whom could develop into Classic hopes.
But it is the Arc that is the focus of the man who rode in point-to-points and had eight rides as an amateur jockey on the Flat without success.
Appleby, whose only previous Arc runner was unplaced Ghaiyyath in 2019, said: ‘Winning it would be magical and be up there with the Derbys. We’re privileged to have two colts of their profiles going in.
‘They’re on their A-game. They have the physique but more importantly the racing brain.’
Adayar may not run in the Arc
Appleby says talks may have to take place on Sunday morning about the Arc participation of Adayar if the rain that falls overnight at Longchamp is as bad as forecast.
More than an inch is predicted on ground already officially described as ‘very soft’. While that will suit Appleby’s stamina-laden St Leger winner Hurricane Lane, it could work against Derby winner Adayar.
Appleby, who won Prix Chaudenay with James Doyle-ridden Manobo, said: ‘If the ground is what they’re expecting you can pull the guts out of good horses.’
Frankie Dettori’s mount Love was pulled out of the race because of a temperature.